Betting Baseball Tips
by Trevor Whenham - 03/28/2007
It's baseball time again. Six glorious months of watching baseball and, if all goes well, making money. Nothing could be better. It's been a while since we last had baseball to watch, though, so we're all probably a little bit rusty. To get back into the swing of things, and to make sure that we go into the season ready to make some serious money, here are five betting baseball tips that you won't want to forget:
1) Baseball is the ultimate marathon. It's a cliché, but like most clichés this one is very true - the baseball season is a marathon, not a sprint. Each team plays 162 games over the course of six months. Once the season gets going it will seem like it never ends. It's important to keep this in mind for a number of reasons. First and foremost, you have to be patient and plan your spots. You can't make good money in August if you have blown your bankroll in April. You need to do your homework so that you know what kinds of games and situations you are looking for, and then you must have the discipline to wait for those situations to emerge. With a dozen or more games almost every day all season, you will be able to find ample attractive betting situations, so you don't need to force a bet in a situation that is less than ideal.
The other important element of the length of the season is that even the most consistent betting theory won't work every time. Inevitably, you will face periods during the season where it seems like you couldn't pick which team would win even if one team didn't show up, and other stretches where you couldn't pick a loser if you had to. As long as you do your homework and stick to a consistent and well thought-out method - don't panic or change your approach when things go bad - you will ride out the rough streaks and be profitable overall.
2) Shop for value. It doesn't matter how many winners you can pick if they don't pay enough for you to make a profit. You will often read that you should avoid the chalk when betting on baseball, but that's an oversimplification, and following it would mean that you could be leaving profit on the table. Instead, the rule of thumb should be that if the odds of winning a bet are better than the cost of making the bet then a bet is worth making. If through research, handicapping or historical evaluation you are reasonably confident that you would win a particular bet 60 percent of the time, for example, then laying anything less than -150 would make that a profitable bet over the long term. On the other hand, a bet that wins only 40 percent of the time would be truly disastrous if you were betting a point spread, but would be profitable taking prices greater than +150.
3) Study the starting pitchers. The starting pitchers are the single biggest contributor to the money line, so you obviously need to study the starting pitchers to determine if a bet is worth making. It's not as simple as deciding which pitcher is better, though. Pitchers have stretches during the season when they are at their best, and other times when they can't seem to get anyone out. Identifying a pitcher's current form is a way to uncover potential value, and to avoid costly mistakes. Some believe that the last three games are an indicator of a pitcher's form, while others think that more or fewer games should be evaluated. Regardless of the number of games, the important thing is that you are finding a way to feel confident about how the pitcher is going to pitch on a given day compared to his potential.
4) Don't ignore the bullpen. We have moved towards such specialization in pitching that a complete game from a starting pitcher is an unusual and noteworthy event. Many starters won't get any in a year, and it is safe to say that no pitcher will get as many as 10. That means that the bullpen is crucial. By spending a few minutes understanding what the bullpen has to offer, you may find value in a money line. A good bullpen could mean that a fair money line would be -150 when it is only -140 based on the starter. That could make a bet worthwhile.
It's not enough to know which team has the better bullpen in general. To gain full value from your bullpen research you also need to know how the bullpen is prepared to perform in the game in question. How fresh are the pitchers? Did the bullpen get used heavily the night before? Does the manager like to use relievers two nights in a row? Has the starter been going deep recently, or is the bullpen depth likely to be challenged? Those are the kinds of questions that can give you an edge.
5) Be aware of streaks. The best teams in the league will suffer from a significant losing streak at some point in the season, and even the worst team will be able to string together a few consecutive wins at some point. Just as pitchers go in and out of form during a season, teams will struggle through low points and hit stretches in which they are unbeatable. Bookmakers and the public are often slow to identify these streaks, and they will often be playing a streak after it has already ended. Finding ways that you can confidently spot a team that is on a roll can make your wallet heavier.